The Last Window-Giraffe

The Last Window-Giraffe

By Péter Zilahy
Foreword by Lawrence Norfolk
Translated by Tim Wilkinson

This dictionary-novel of dictatorship is a thrilling personal journey behind the Iron Curtain – and like nothing you have read before.

Hardback, 130 Pages


March 2008

£12.99, $22.95

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About This Book

The Last Window-Giraffe’ is a playful and personal journey through the political unrest of the seventies and eighties. It was inspired by a Hungarian children’s dictionary, entitled ‘Window-Giraffe’, which explained the whole world in simple terms; a world where everything was in order and all problems were easily solved. Popular across Europe for the best part of a decade, ‘The Last Window-Giraffe’ is a politically infused rendition of the original: quirky, astute and powerful. Péter Zilahy draws on his travels around the soft dictatorships of Eastern Europe, offering his acerbic observations on the often bizarre spectacle. In one instance he describes the carnival-like protests against the Milosevic regime in Belgrade simply and humorously. This reflects, like the format of the book, the manner in which the regime treat their people like children. [NP] Filled with his own striking photographs, Zilahy gives fascinating insight into a whole other universe behind the Iron Curtain. ‘The Last Window-Giraffe’ is one of the most unusual, beguiling books you will ever read.

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'Zilahy's account is often funny, but always raw and direct: a far cry from the nostalgic soup often poured over the spectre of 1968.' —Philip Oltermann, ‘The Independent’

'Not only a great piece of literature but a visual feast as well.' —Julian Evans, ‘BBC’

'In these bittersweet pages you will find the fall of the regimes, and the last twenty years of Eastern Europe.' —Enrico Remmert, ‘Rolling Stone Magazine’

'Originally a poet, Zilahy writes with clarity and economy.' —Tibor Fischer, ‘The Telegraph’

'Zilahy delivers a generational confession…' —‘Times Literary Supplement’

'A remarkable and best-selling author… Peter Zilahy has written a book that almost defies description.' —Ian McMillan, ‘The Verb’, BBC Radio 3 

'Zilahy captures the ‘Groundhog Day’ feeling of the protests in Belgrade... ' —‘Time Out’

'It captures what was a near-universal local experience so well, a transition that is monumental and yet oddly anti-climactic… And it's a very good-looking book, too.' — ‘The Complete Review’

Péter Zilahy is just the vagabond polymath the New Europe needs. Don't wait. Climb aboard the rollercoaster today. Read ‘The Last Window-Giraffe’ as an elaborate, erudite, gut-wrenching belly-laugh at everything that went wrong and all the people who failed to fix it.' —Lawrence Norfolk, author of ‘In the Shape of a Boar’

'Wonderful!' —Victor Pelevin, author of ‘Babylon’

'Péter Zilahy, wanderer, adventurer, initiator of a great many performances and provocations, much resembles Jean-Arthur Rimbaud during the Commune of Paris.' —Yuri Andrukhovych, author of ‘Twelve Rings’ and ‘The Secret’

'A breathtaking book about incredible countries and extraordinary times.'  —Andrzej Stasiuk

'Péter Zilahy is the Hungarian Andy Warhol. Even his sales pitch is a work of art.'  —Arnon Grunberg

'I have not read anything so original in fifteen years. Zilahy feels and understands his age… I will even venture to say this is the literary event of the year.' —Mihály Kornis, author of ‘Magyar Rekviem’

'The freshness of his experience comes through the text; it's like he'd been there at every milestone, as if the book were written by a journalist with a poet's imagination.'  —Péter Esterházy, author of ‘Helping Verbs of the Heart’

Author Information

Péter Zilahy was born in 1970 in Budapest, Hungary. He is a writer and performer with diverse interests. His books have been translated into 18 languages. In 2001 he was a lecturer at New York University. His dictionary-novel ‘The Last Window-Giraffe’ won the Book of the Year Prize in Ukraine in 2003.

Lawrence Norfolk is the author of three novels, including ‘In the Shape of a Boar’.

Tim Wilkinson worked as an academic editor in Hungary in the 1970s. Alongside a number of translations of historical works, he has translated three novels by Imre Kertész.


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Table of Contents

Foreword by Lawrence Norfolk; A-Z Entries; Biographical Index


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